Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort Found Guilty on Eight Counts

Another one bites the dust
Paul Manafort at the courtroom in Virginia listens to the verdict (Photo: Reuters)

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman president Donald Trump presidential campaign who had links to Russia and Vladimir Putin, was found guilty yesterday on eight counts of financial crimes in a Virginia federal court.

A jury found Manafort guilty of five tax fraud charges; two counts of bank fraud and one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts.  He was charged with 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts. Jurors at the Eastern District of Virginia federal court, however, were unable to reach a verdict on 10 charges. Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on those 10 counts.

Manafort still faces a second set of criminal charges in a Washington, D.C., federal court. One of these charges is his failure to register his activities as a foreign lobbyist. Another is a money laundering conspiracy related to his work for high-ranking officials of the former Uk, the Iranian government. Manafort's second trial will begin in September.

Manafort's is the first case Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought to trial as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election won by Trump with Russian help. Legal pundits said the verdict against Manafort is a huge win for Mueller and is a setback for Trump and his relentless campaign to avoid prosecution by Mueller on charges of conspiring against the United States.

A secret dossier also played a key role in Manafort's conviction. The "Trump-Russia Dossier," also called the Steele Dossier, writes that Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, managed the well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between the campaign and the Russian leadership. It also said that Manafort used Trump foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, and others as intermediaries.

Manafort, 69, faces a maximum of 80 years in prison but is likely to spend less than a tenth of that time in prison considering his old age. He's has been in jail since June after his bail was revoked following charges of witness tampering.

Prosecutors successfully contended that Manafort collected $65 million stashed in foreign bank accounts. Manafort spent more than $15 million on luxury purchases in the same period. Among the many items bought by Manafort at this time were bespoke clothing, real estate, and landscaping.

Prosecutors also allege Manafort lied to banks in order to withdraw more than $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian political project ended in 2015. They further accused Manafort of hiding the foreign bank accounts from federal authorities.

The verdict against Manafort was rendered before Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in another New York federal court to multiple counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud.

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